Valley Voices

Everything was planned so well, nothing could go wrong, until it did

Abby, the Farbers’ beagle, got some extra treats out of scheduling snafus the couple had on a recent outing.
Abby, the Farbers’ beagle, got some extra treats out of scheduling snafus the couple had on a recent outing. Contributed

Have you ever planned a trip so perfectly that you knew nothing could go wrong?

We wanted to get to Los Angeles in time for a family reunion and dinner in honor of our granddaughter’s graduation from college. We worked backwards as we planned our timing and allowed for lunch, slow traffic and dropping off our beagle at a boarding kennel. We left the house at 10 a.m. and planned to be on the freeway by 10:30. This was going to be Abby’s first time on a “stay-cation” so we brought with us the certificate indicating she had had the required influenza shot. We checked her in, gave her a goodbye treat, and left just before 10:30 as we planned.

Francine M. Farber is a retired educational administrator and community volunteer in Fresno, CA. Fresno Bee file

As we were about to turn onto Highway 41 our cell phone rang. It was the kennel asking about her rabies shot. Yes, of course, we told them, she was up to date. But the kennel wanted a certificate for that, too. We gave them the name of our vet, they called, then called us back to say the vet had no record of her rabies shot. We were momentarily mystified, then realized she had the shot prior to our adopting her a few months ago. We couldn’t remember the name of the vet used by her previous owner, but knew he was in Selma.

The kennel found him and he confirmed the rabies vaccine, but now they also wanted her to have two other vaccinations. They offered to take Abby to a nearby clinic and of course we would pay for the shots, but we would also have to pay $75 for their service in taking her there. We decided we would return and take her to the clinic ourselves, and then bring her back to the boarding kennel. We picked her up — she had only been there for about a half hour — and I can only imagine she must have been thinking, well, that was a big nothing.

We drove her to the clinic to get her shots. All went well and the procedure was finished promptly. She even played with a 3-month-old husky who was twice her size while awaiting her turn. We drove back to the kennel where she got another goodbye treat. For a dog, she looked confused. As for us, we checked our watches and by the time we got on the road at the Shields Avenue entrance to Highway 41 it was 11:30. So now we were one hour behind our carefully planned schedule. But no problem, we thought, as we had allowed extra time.

It was a pleasant day and traffic was great. We stopped for lunch in Bakersfield and continued on Interstate 5 and then eventually to 210 West. That’s where the honeymoon was officially over.

As relative newcomers to California we had only driven to Los Angeles once before. This time we hit a monumental traffic jam and took one hour to navigate 19 miles. Finally we sailed along for awhile and then hit another snag not too far from our destination. We actually arrived at 5:15 p.m., a full seven and a quarter hours since we had left Fresno.

Exhausted, we just had time to check in to the motel, unpack, take a short rest and then get dressed for our family event. As it turned out, we had a great time and the weekend was a very happy one.

But even our return trip was eventful. Although we accomplished it in only four hours, we encountered a heavy rainstorm outside of Bakersfield — so intense that for about a mile we were riding almost vision-less, with just a vague outline of a vehicle in front of us. The storm followed us to Fresno, and about 20 miles outside of Fresno County the same storm caught up with us again, but this time with even more fury and longer lasting. Nonetheless we made it back safely thanks to my husband’s excellent driving, picked up Abby from the kennel, and were glad to be home to tell the tale.

We learned once again that even though you think you have planned perfectly for nothing to go wrong, it often does!

Francine M. Farber is a retired school district administrator and now a fulltime community volunteer in Fresno. She can be contacted at fmfarber@